New bathroom

Posted: October 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: bathroom, progress | 2 Comments »

demolition for the new downstairs bathroom

bathroom walls!


So many changes have happened in the downstairs bathroom! We’ve been inching along, sporadically, doing work on the bathroom here and there, for a while. We actually made a lot of progress over last winter, framing and plumbing work that doesn’t make it look pretty but laid the important groundwork. And then it just stayed like that, with disconnected plumbing and dangling wires, for a few months, while we paid attention to other stuff. Finally George, a dear friend and neighbor, came in to help us with putting up the wallboard in June. Once we had everything ready to go, we realized we hadn’t done any rodent-proofing, which seemed prudent, considering how many mouse and squirrel nests I had ripped out in the process of gutting the room. So the wallboard was delayed a few days while we (mostly George) stapled wire mesh over all the little holes in the walls. Then the wallboard went up! We used greenboard, which is supposed to be waterproof- it’s basically a type of cement-board made for bathroom walls. We would’ve loved to do some tiled walls, especially adjacent to the shower, but we couldn’t find any affordable tiles that we really loved, so: greenboard. Hope it holds up well!

the new bathroom!

Then, once the walls were up, we were finally able to buy a TOILET! Some people were surprised that we chose a new toilet (rather than “vintage”); I will admit that I originally considered rehabilitating one of the old toilets from our house, but our plumber, whose opinion I respect, managed to talk me out of it: too much work, not worth it, and new toilets are much more efficient. OK! A new toilet. George created this handsome, custom-made slate piece to sit under the toilet. Because we have a wood floor, we worried about condensation dripping off the exterior of the toilet tank (as it often does in our humid climate) and rotting the floor. The slate slab should take care of that.
We were still missing one bathroom door. I learned from Lynn that four-panel doors would be historically appropriate for our house. We poked around at Pete’s Place, our local salvage yard, and found a trio of nice old four-panel doors, two for the kitchen and one for the bathroom. Judy has put in innumerable hours carefully stripping, scraping and sanding off the old lead paint from all three of the doors, with all their fussy molding details, and priming and re-painting them to look shiny and beautiful and new.

With the wedding coming up, we started working fast to try and get the new bathroom (among many other projects) in working order before the big party! We had SO MUCH HELP from wonderful friends & relatives who pitched in to make it happen: Alicia and Kathy and Rob and Paz and Aunt Barbara all helped us with priming and painting the walls! Rob taught me a great cutting-in technique, to make a neat edge where the white of the ceiling meets the green of the walls. I had to do a bunch of patching on the one exterior wall, where we had kept the original wallboard but had to cut big holes in it to have insulation blown in to the wall cavity. A few days of patching all the holes, spackling and sanding and it was good as new. We chose a sort of avocado green for the bathroom walls. I think we must have been influenced by spending so many weeks looking a the color of the greenboard; our final wall color is only a few shades away from the color of the unfinished greenboard. We chose a gloss finish because there’s going to be a lot of moisture in there and we thought the gloss finish would be best for repelling moisture. Honestly, now that it’s done, I’m not 100% sure about this color choice, and the glossy look is a little bit hideous, but it’s going to have to be ok because i’m not painting it again!

Next we picked up our tub from the architectural salvage place and hauled our bathroom sink out of storage. While Mike worked on rehabilitating the peeling bathtub, we set about trying to make the sink usable.

we found this beautiful sink!
old sink discovered in the barn

the new sink

dog and cat help clean up the sink

Judy and Richard noticed this sink in the barn when we first bought the house, and we fell in love with it, hauled it indoors and stuck it in a corner waiting for the bathroom to happen. It’s got some rust stains and spotty enamel that we haven’t managed to get rid of yet, but it’s still a lovely old sink, I really like the octagonal shape. Our regular carpenter, Lynn, built us this custom bead-board cabinet with beveled corners matching the shape of the sink.

sink and cabinet
custom cabinet

We had a bit of a challenge finding hardware for the sink – it came with older style hardware, separate hot and cold spigots and a central drain lever, that were all rusted and corroded and were nearly impossible to get off. It took a few days, all kinds of solvent and a few strong men to part the corroded hardware from the old sink. The central opening is too small to fit a spigot, so we had limited choices for hardware that would work with our sink. I always hated the separate hot and cold spigots, but it’s REALLY expensive to buy a “bridge” faucet that mixes the hot and cold taps into a single spigot, so we ended up compromising on this crazy looking thing that has separate spigots, both angled inward to pour into the ceramic funnel thing, so the water comes out in a single, warm stream. I think it’s a pretty interesting solution and looks kind of cool!

this is how our faucet is supposed to work

The trouble is, we were a little too hasty in our purchase. Turns out it doesn’t really fit our sink properly – the spigots are just a tiny bit too far apart and they don’t reach the ceramic spout. DOH. Since it only arrived a few days before our wedding, we decided to just go with it rather than return it. The ceramic spout doesn’t really do anything, though it looks like a fancy kind of a soap dish or something. Maybe one day we can have a potter make us a custom ceramic spout to fit our sink! Or maybe someday we’ll save up for a bridge faucet to replace it. Meanwhile, we’ve got separate spigots and a fancy soap-dish-thing in the middle. Sigh.

sink hardware
this didn’t work out right.

Next, we hauled in our washer and dryer, which we had bought on sale almost a year earlier! They had just been sitting in an empty room, waiting until the bathroom walls were finished. (It took another month before we got the washing machine actually hooked up and running, and another five months before we got the dryer working!)
We’d brought in an electrician to do the wiring for the bathroom before the walls went up, and we called him back to finish up the last bits – we didn’t have our final light fixtures yet, but we had temporary fixtures and he hooked them up to light switches and made it all work!
With all the spackling and painting done and the heavy appliances in, we finally got to pull up the layers of cardboard and plastic off the floor to reveal the beautiful new white oak flooring that we put down last year! There’s still one patch of original hardwood floor, over by the washer, it’s all covered with crusty, gunky linoleum adhesive and crud and it will need to be stripped refinished at some point.
The bathroom was looking almost complete, but still conspicuously missing a mirror. I think it was the day before our wedding when Bonnie and Les (that’s Mike’s mom and stepdad), who were already up in Maine for the wedding, said they were thinking of heading to Kennebunk for the day, but offered to help with anything we might need for the wedding. I asked them if they’d be interested in stopping by Old House Parts, our favorite architectural salvage depot in Kennebunk, to look for a bathroom mirror. They did stop in, had a good look around and sent us a handful of iphone photos of different mirrors for us to choose from! We picked this one, which they’d found hanging up in the shop’s bathroom but luckily they thought to inquire if it was for sale. Yes, it could be purchased. So they got us this beautiful new bathroom mirror!

bathroom's almost finished!
the new mirror!

Thanks to some generous wedding gifts, we were able to buy beautiful lights for the bathroom too! We chose these kind of art-deco looking reproduction fixtures to match the geometric look of the sink. The shades were ones that we’d originally gotten for the kitchen but they didn’t fit in the kitchen at all – luckily they work perfectly here! We got them hooked up around the end of December.

downstairs bathroom

Aunt Barbara sewed us these cheery curtains for the bathroom window. I’d fallen in love with this fabric while shopping for something else and brought home a small square of it without any project in mind, just because it’s so cute! We noticed how the colors match the bathroom wall color perfectly, so Barbara offered to make us curtains with it!! I went back to Joann and they were all out of it, didn’t know what I was talking about, couldn’t re-order it. And then Barbara managed to find several yards of the same fabric at her local JoAnn in New York! So she stitched them up for us. I think it really makes the room look much cozier to have some proper curtains.

curtain curtain

So what’s still left to do? A lot, actually. The tub is sitting in the bathroom but not hooked up to anything. It turns out it’s quite expensive to buy the hardware sets to convert claw-foot tubs to have a shower spigot and curtain. I’m sure it will be wonderful when it’s all done, but for the moment it’s waiting til we have a few thousand bucks sitting around to buy all the hardware and pay the plumber to hook it up. Then we’re planning to build some shelves over/around the washer/dryer. I’d like to see less expanse of shiny white metal and less plumbing and ducts. I think there will be some cupboards or shelves above the washer/dryer where we can store soap and linens and stuff. Also we’ll build in some shelves near the doors, one near the sink area and one near the tub (which will cover up those pipes currently sticking out of the floor). There is still one battered hollow-core door that should be replaced with an old-style four-panel wood door, and there’s still that patch of old crummy wood flooring that will need to be refinished. Eventually I’d love to have a laundry-folding-table in front of the window, and maybe some off those accordion-style wall-mounted drying racks, for hanging laundry. Now that we’ve spent so many months without a clothes dryer, I’ve gotten used to hanging everything! The dryer is great (and so fast!), perfect for big stuff like sheets and blankets, but I feel a little guilty wasting electricity on t-shirts and socks when I can just hang them up to dry.

bathroom collage

2 Comments on “New bathroom”

  1. 1 Maribell said at 12:37 am on March 18th, 2015:


    Any chance you recall where you purchased this faucet from? I cannot find it anywhere.

  2. 2 eliza said at 11:58 am on March 24th, 2017:

    Hi! I think we got it from ? It was a few years ago so they might not carry it anymore.

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